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Delmonico, Charles Constant (1840-1884)


Charles Constant Delmonico is identified as one of the “friends of Henry Clapp in the city of New York,” but not necessarily as a Pfaffian (“Current Memoranda” 714). His family’s restaurant Delmonico’s was referred to in the Saturday Press piece “Sixes and Sevens.”

Charles Delmonico was the great-nephew of John and Peter Delmonico--the founders of Delmonico’s restaurant. Charles started working at the Chambers Street location while he was still a teenager. Even as a young man, he possessed a gift for making wise business decisions: “Charles was responsible for a policy which in later years he credited with having contributed as much as any single factor to Delmonico’s success” (Thomas 76). It was Charles who noticed that the “sort of man who patronized Delmonico’s . . . was not the sort that liked to be dunned about a bill; so the rule was laid down that bills should be presented only when a customer asked for one” (76). A twenty-two-year-old Charles later managed the luxurious 14th Street Delmonico’s.

The life of Charles Delmonico did not end well. In his final years, he seemed to fall into a depression. He was “subject to fits of temper, and was overbearing to employees whom he had used to treat with consideration . . . But in his most morbid, cynical moods, he kept a strict eye upon the operation of the restaurants, and nothing that went on there escaped his notice” (Thomas 204). Eventually, Charles had to be forcibly restrained and kept under observation at all times. In January of 1884, Charles managed to escape his handlers and to disappear; his body was found two weeks later in a roadside ditch (204-206). He may have been trying to visit his friend Gen. George McClellan and gotten disoriented along the way. He most likely succumbed to hypothermia and collapsed into the ditch (206).